New qualifying pathway for Sevens World Series as rugby prepares for Rio 2016
Friday, 21 September 2012
September 21 - A new promotion and relegation system has been introduced by the International Rugby Board (IRB) for its HSBC Sevens World Series as the sport continues its preparations for its return to the Olympic programme at Rio in 2016.
For the 2012-2013 season of the Sevens World Series, which kicks off on Australia's Gold Coast on October 13 and 14, the number of core teams that participate in each of the nine rounds has increased from 12 to 15, following the qualification of Canada, Portugal and Spain.
From the end of the Series, promotion and relegation from core team status will come into effect, with a pre-qualifying competition in Hong Kong and a final core team qualifier in London at the ninth and final round of the season.
The 2013 Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens will feature 28 teams, an increase on the usual 24, and will comprise two distinct competitions.
In the first, the 15 current core teams and the winner of the HSBC Asian Sevens Series will compete for the famous Hong Kong title and World Series points.
In the second competition, 12 teams - two qualifiers from each of the six regional tournaments - will compete for places at the core team qualifying final in London.
The Marriott London Sevens, the final round of the Series, will also feature two distinct tournaments, and a total of 20 teams.
In the first, the top 12-ranked sides in the Sevens World Series standings after round eight in Glasgow will compete for the London title, and final World Series points towards their overall tally.
In the second, the 13th, 14th and 15th-ranked core teams after the Glasgow event will compete against five pre-qualified regional teams from Hong Kong, for the three available core team places on the 2013-2014 Sevens World Series.
The introduction of the new format is in line with the comprehensive IRB Sevens Plan that was developed in partnership with the IRB's Member Unions and approved by the IRB Council last November.
"As we enter our first four-year Olympic cycle for rugby sevens and build towards Rio 2016, it is important that the opportunity exists for all nations to progress to Series core team status if they are good enough," said IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset.
"We are confident that this new system provides every nation competing in their regional qualifying tournament with a direct chance to gain core team status and compete on every round of the World Series.
"We are also accelerating towards our Olympic Games debut in Rio and this change to the Series structure underscores our commitment to ensuring a transparent opportunity-for-all pathway to the Games."
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